1.3 Program Advisors, Major Professors, & POS Committees

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1.3.1 Assigned Program Advisors

The name of your assigned program advisor is found on your student information page in AccessPlus. Contact the Graduate Program Administrative Assistant (englgrad@iastate.edu) if your advisor is not listed. All new graduate students should introduce themselves to their assigned program advisors by the end of the fourth week of classes in their first semester. Your program advisor helps you plan your coursework and guides you in a variety of academic matters. Please remember that it is your responsibility to initiate contact with your assigned program advisor prior to registration, or when it is time to file certain forms or to meet certain deadlines.

1.3.2 Program of Study (POS) Committee

Graduate Faculty membership

Membership on the ISU Graduate College graduate faculty is granted to an individual who holds a tenure track appointment with the academic rank of assistant professor or above at Iowa State University. There are full memberships and associate memberships determined by policy of the Graduate College (see Appendix G: Graduate Faculty Membership and Associate Membership).

Major Professors

Your major professor is the person who will chair your Program of Study (POS) committee. This person supervises your thesis, creative component, or dissertation. It may be that your assigned program advisor will become your major professor; however, this choice should depend on the nature and direction of your research or creative project as well as your rapport with the selected professor. Your major professor, in consultation with your POS committee, is responsible for approving the coursework in your program of study (POS). Your major professor’s primary responsibility, however, will be supervising the development of your thesis, creative component, or dissertation. We urge you to choose your major professor as soon as possible because this person is such a crucial part of your program.

Co-Major Professors

If you are pursuing a co-major, you must have co-major professors, each representing one of your co-major programs of study. If you have a graduate faculty member that represents both majors, they can serve as a single major professor for both majors.

Co-major professors are also required when a faculty member retires or resigns from Iowa State University and is the student’s major professor. Having an associate graduate faculty member serving as major professor requires appointment of a co-major professor as well that is a full graduate faculty member.

The Graduate College may also require an additional POS Committee member in order that each major is represented with a minimum of two faculty members (i.e., one co-major professor and one committee member). See specific co-major requirements for English Department majors later in this manual within the appropriate section for the M.A., M.F.A., and Ph.D. programs.

Members of the POS Committee

Members and Associate Graduate Faculty Members: Any Graduate Faculty member or Associate Graduate Faculty member may serve as a member of a master’s or doctoral POS committee (faculty, not students, can access the Graduate Faculty Database).

Member(s) from outside the student’s field of emphasis: These Graduate Faculty members provide relevant specialized knowledge or a different perspective helpful to the planning, execution, and reporting of research, or some aspect of intellectual diversity deemed important by the committee and/or major.

Member(s) from Minor: If a graduate minor has been declared, a Graduate Faculty member from the minor program or interdepartmental minor must serve on the POS committee. The major professor and the representative from the minor field may not be the same person.

Retired ISU graduate faculty: Retired Graduate Faculty members may serve as committee members only (not as major professors) on newly formed master’s or doctoral committees as long as they are willing to participate actively. If they serve as major professor at the time of retirement, a co-major professor who is a member of the graduate faculty must be appointed.

Resigned from ISU graduate faculty: Graduate Faculty members who have resigned from ISU but were serving as a committee member on an approved committee may continue to serve in that capacity. They may not be appointed to any new committees. If they serve as major professor at the time of resignation, a co-major professor who is a member of the graduate faculty must be appointed.

Non-ISU/Affiliate Associate Graduate Faculty Members: Professionals who are not employed by Iowa State University but have been officially appointed as Associate Graduate Faculty members can serve as committee members, as a co-major professor (not as a stand-alone major professor), and fill other duties as explicated by their nomination. Procedures for nomination to Associate Graduate Faculty status are described in the Graduate College Handbook, Appendix G (see link below). Because such members are not employees of Iowa State University, should a non-ISU Associate Graduate Faculty member’s conduct be counterproductive to the student’s academic progress, the Dean of the Graduate College has the authority to remove them from the POSC.

Additional Non-voting Members: When a non-member of the Graduate Faculty possesses expertise particularly relevant to the student’s field of study, they may serve informally on either the master’s or the doctoral POS Committee as an additional non-voting member. The non-voting member does not sign the online POSC. Non-voting members are invited but not required to attend all committee functions.

For additional information, refer to the Graduate College Handbook regarding “POS Committee Makeup.”